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Local leaders react to Wolf’s proposed budget

Gov. Tom Wolf delivers his budget address for the 2017-18 fiscal year to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate in Harrisburg on Tuesday.
Gov. Tom Wolf delivers his budget address for the 2017-18 fiscal year to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate in Harrisburg on Tuesday. AP

Gov. Tom Wolf put his third budget proposal on the table Tuesday.

The $81 billion first pitch calls for no “broad-based” tax increases on residents — a sticking point with the GOP in 2015 — but does provide increases to areas that were important to Wolf over the past two years, education and addressing the opioid crisis.

State Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, said he was disappointed in the plan’s failure to address what he continues to stress as the most critical issue facing the commonwealth, the looming pension problems.

“It includes a limited number of ideas about how the state can save money and does nothing to address skyrocketing pensions and Medicaid spending,” he said.

The budget also puts money into Penn State programs.

“Understanding the budget challenges in Harrisburg, we appreciate that Gov. Wolf has proposed to maintain Penn State’s current level of state funding. The governor’s action today is a reflection of his continued support of Penn State and higher education in Pennsylvania,” said university spokeswoman Lisa Powers. “The continued investment in Penn State is an investment in the commonwealth’s future, its economy and the quality of life of its citizens.”

“While we understand that this is the first step in the state appropriation process, we look forward to meeting with lawmakers to discuss how Penn State’s excellence in teaching, research and outreach can help drive Pennsylvania’s long-term economic prosperity,” Powers said.

Legislators agreed on that point.

"The budget address is the beginning; it's the blueprint of the state's checkbook. The governor has laid his foundation and the focus will now shift to the House and Senate to lay the groundwork to strike the appropriate balance," said state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township.

“Today’s budget address is a starting point, and as we begin this process once again, I call on my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to work with me to look seriously and sincerely at where we can tighten our belt, where we can eliminate wasteful, unnecessary spending, and how we can ensure that government is running as efficiently as possible,” said state Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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